Most church leaders dislike talking about the need to give money, according to a newly-published survey on Christian giving. They tend to sweep financial issues under the carpet and fail to preach inspiring sermons on the subject of generosity. As a result, churchgoers are being given mixed messages by their ministers and churches are at risk of losing out on large amounts of potential giving. The same is often true of Christian charities.
The survey concerned was undertaken by Redina Kolaneci, Senior Fundraising and Stewardship Consultant with the Christian consulting group McConkey Johnston International UK, in partnership with the Evangelical Alliance, and among a random sample of 2,000 of the Alliance’s members in August-September 2009. The research was sponsored by Kingdom Bank, Trinity Wealth Management and David Potter Design.
The full statistical findings of the study are reported in Why Christians Give: Understanding the Hearts and Minds of 21st Century Evangelical Donors. This is available (price £43.95, inclusive of postage and packing) from McConkey Johnston International UK, 45 Maidenburgh Street, Colchester, CO1 1UB. However, a more qualitative four-page summary can be downloaded free from:
In spite of the apparent timidity of their ministers, and the negative impact of the recession (which has reduced the giving of one in four), evangelicals remain a generous group. The average monthly donation of all respondents still represents 11.5% of their household income, of which 6.5% is given to local churches and 5% to Christian charities.
The top three causes supported by evangelicals in a typical month are Christian outreach charities (83%), international relief charities (59%) and healthcare and medical charities (31%). Although surfing the net is one of the top three leisure-time activities, few evangelicals actually donate online. Regular giving by cheque remains popular (perhaps reflecting the fact that the average donor is aged 55-64), with direct debit and standing orders also important. Four-tenths state they have provided for a charity or church in their will.
The most compelling reasons for giving are trust in a charity’s effectiveness and transparency about how the money is used, followed by donors having some kind of first-hand experience of a charity’s work and personal interest in the people or area where the charity is helping. Most donors desire a relationship with the charities they support. Being asked to pray regularly for a charity’s work and to respond to urgent financial needs are among the factors which strengthen a donor’s motivation.
Some comparisons are drawn with a similar study conducted by Kolaneci in 1997 on behalf of the Macedonian Evangelical Trust and reported in Who Gives to What and Why? Getting to Know Evangelical Donors – A Survey of Individual Giving to Churches and Charities Amongst Evangelical Christians in Britain (Bromley: Macedonian Evangelical Trust, ).
Although evangelicals are a significant force in British Christianity, numbering approximately 2,000,000 according to one estimate, it seems rather doubtful whether the member organizations and individuals of the Evangelical Alliance responding to Kolaneci’s 2009 survey will have been statistically representative of this wider constituency. Neither is it likely that the giving of evangelicals as a whole will be typical of all Christians. Indeed, on the percentages quoted above, it would certainly appear to be far more sacrificial than average!